Wisdom Through the Awful Grace of God

“My favorite poem, my—my favorite poet was by Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.”

On April 4, 1968, Robert Kennedy spoke to a small crowd in Indianapolis at what was supposed to be a campaign stop during his presidential campaign. Instead, he had to break the news to this crowd – of mostly black individuals – that Martin Luther King, Jr. had images (1)been shot and killed. Cries rang out when they heard this news, but still, they listened to Bobby as he spoke of what our country could truly become if we fought through the fog of division and hatred seething through our country at the time.

Those words ring louder today more than almost any other time in our country’s history. We face an immense uphill climb today. Our country has continued down this path of division and hatred, and it has culminated in the devolution of man from our once compassionate and strong will towards social progress to a completely divided country and selfish way of life.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

We cannot continue down this path.

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The Mindless Menace of Violence

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Yesterday, after the unspeakable mass murder that took place in Las Vegas, I was at a loss for words as to how I would react to such a heinous act of violence. I wrote a post, instead, about how we must learn to come together, love one another and understand each other in order to break this endless cycle of violence.

Today, I am still speechless and at a loss for words, but I feel Robert Kennedy spoke just as true nearly 50 years ago about violence as it pertains to today. The fact that we still have yet to learn and understand from our fellow neighbors around us shows just how far we have still to go.

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Below is a video with the audio for Robert Kennedy’s “Mindless Menace of Violence” speech he gave the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Please give a listen and if you feel it still resonates during these violent times we currently live in please like, share, and comment below.

 

I’ve included the transcript of the speech under the video.

 

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I Believe That, as Long as There is Plenty, Poverty is Evil.

Take a look at that shiny new smartphone you have, or maybe the big screen TV you rfk_poorchild1have at home. Pretty sweet, right? You’ve got these great commodities which you worked so hard for and now that you have them in your life you should feel happier, right? You now have what you worked for. It’s in your life now, and you can take pride in it.

As our sesquipedalian Cheeto-faced orange of a president states so eloquently: Wrong.

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Every Society Gets the Kind of Criminal It Deserves.

And none of us are innocent. So long as we stand on the sidelines and remain bystandersrobert_kennedy_glasses_2 to the hate, ignorance, dishonesty, and apathy we will remain guilty. Our society is the way it is today because of the inability for us to stand for what is right. It’s a hard truth, but sometimes those truths are the most necessary to wake us up to what is going on around us. Sometimes we need that fall from our comfortable bed to the hardwood floor to wake us up from the figments of our imagination we’ve envisioned around us.

The hardest part, though, is the waking up.

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Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live. 

We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Therrfk-speech-jpg__735x525_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscalee’s an endless cycle of death and destruction that seems to permeate itself around the world, and instead of seeking out the truth and wisdom we need to continue to live in a just, peaceful world, we cling to our fears to keep us rooted in a world of stereotypes, prejudices, and a retrograde of progress.

We build the world we see based on our experiences and the reactions to those experiences. We can take an experience we’ve had in our life and make it the very essence for our fight for a certain cause, or we can use that experience to fortify ourselves around a barricaded wall of misinformation and hate. Like it or not, we live in a post 9/11 world where stereotypes we haven’t seen the likes of since the 1920s and 1930s are now prevalent in our society. We have two paths which we can go down now: one where we learn from these hideous tragedies and come together as one human race or we can continue down the path we’re already on: one of racism, sexism, and division.

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Too Often We Excuse Those Who Are Willing to Build Their Own Lives on the shattered dreams of Others

No one deserves to suffer. From birth to death, every moment you live should be free of that awful burden of suffering. Whether it be that child in poverty going to sleep hungry because their family can’t afford dinner, the family ripped apart because of living in a war-torn country, or someone with a disease or disability they never asked for.

Those who suffer are the ones who grow up to feel more.kennedy_discusses_school_with_young_ricky_taggart They maintain that sentiment of what it means and feels like to suffer; and it’s those who you usually see working their hardest at nonprofits, NGO’s, within city, state, or the federal government who have suffered the most throughout their lives. They believe in the simple principle that no one in need should go without it and that at any moment they could find themselves in that same place of need.

Unfortunately, we live in highly complicated times where suffering does occur. Utopias only exist in fairy tales. Instead, we’re left with those who care less for others than they do themselves. They look to either line their pockets with more money than they know what to do with, or they’re seeking more power for themselves.

To those I say: look around at those you ignore. Look at the backs you are breaking to give yourself a lift up above them. Those you stand upon to gain whatever it is you want will always be stronger than you will ever be. They, the ones who go to bed at night unsure of what the next day will bring them, in every literal sense of the word, are the bravest souls you will find.

They will not be forgotten or disappear. Instead, they are the face for what you fear the most: progress, because when those suffering see others suffering they will band together and stand on your back to make themselves known. You cannot erase their suffering or the troubles they faced throughout their lives, but you will awake a sleeping giant unlike any you’ve ever known.

Robert Kenkennedynedy knew this before any of us, especially when he spoke in South Africa in the midst of apartheid. He knew what those who suffered could accomplish if they banded together, regardless of your skin color, ethnicity, age, gender, or whatever it was that caused the suffering. They would carry each other, even when broken and battered, to that mountaintop Martin Luther King, Jr. said he’d seen right before his assassination.

Instead of a mountaintop, though, Bobby saw those little ripples of hope we each could be in enacting change anywhere in the world. In each of us, in all of us who suffer, there is a little ripple of hope we can become even in the darkest of times, and when we merge together we can become the largest of waves powerful enough to wash away any injustice or hatred.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

All it requires us to do is work together instead of live divided, as we do today. Families in this country are torn apart simply because of their political views when we should be cherishing the fact that we can each have our own views because in many countries around the world that right can get you arrested, exiled, or killed.

Bobby understood that we are all one human race, regardless of what you look like or what your social status is.

And as one human race, we suffer together.

So as one human race we should work together to ease the suffering in our world instead of picking fights with each other based on superfluous things.

We must love one another or we will perish.

So, once again, to those suffering: the child going to sleep hungry in what is considered the “shining city on a hill,” the Syrian refugee fleeing the only place they’ve ever known for their lives because their entire village was destroyed by fire from the sky, the black man or woman who is afraid to speak up for their rights to police officers because they’re afraid of the response being the barrel of a gun, and every single person who suffers in ways I may never understand or know of: I love you and I will fight the rest of my life for a world where we can sing a requiem for the suffering you’ve faced head on and succeeded in conquering.

– RA

What Does This Blog Stand For?

I’ve been receiving some messages and comments on both this blog and my page based off some of the posts I’ve made, whether they be things I write myself or things I share from others. For those who want to poke fun at my anger on this blog towards a certain orange-tinted president because this blog is called Tame The Savageness, let me give you a little history lesson. So buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the ride.


On April 8, 1968, Robert Kennedy was on his way to a routine campaign stop in Indianapolis, Indiana while running for president. Before boarding his plane to head there he was informed that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, and when he landed in Indianapolis he learned that he had unfortunately succumbed to his wounds. Immediately, his closest advisers wanted him to cancel his appearance in Indianapolis, but Kennedy thought differently. He knew at that time, that those at his campaign stop (who were mostly African American) needed to hear words of healing rather than divisiveness. At such a time, their anger could become so uncontrollable that it could potentially burn the city down, which ended up happening in dozens of cities around the country that night. The memories of his own brother’s assassination not more than five years prior were also most certainly on his mind.
So he traveled to the stop taking some notes  on the way written by his speech writer, but mostly deciding in his head on what to say. He stood on the back of a dilapidated pick up truck. Tears in his eyes from learning of King’s assassination still remained as he told those who came to see him give a routine campaign speech to lower their signs.

Now, many of those at this event had not yet found out about King’s assassination. And Bobby would be the first to tell them.

I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight.

Cries and screams could be heard from the crowd as they heard from some who called him that “blue-eyed soul brother” due to his tremendous popularity among African Americans explain not his hope for them to not be angry but to know that he understood that anger.

In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

Bobby knew the consequences that King’s assassination could have on this nation. So he offered another alternative. This time, adding in his own understanding of their tears, screams, unspeakable hurts, and inconsolable hearts.

Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times.

Mind you, this was truly, really the first time Bobby spoke publicly about the assassination of his brother. Never did he speak about it to anyone, instead keeping that pain internal and trying to learn from it.

He spent the years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated trying to understand how God could allow such an awful thing to happen, and eventually it became something more. It became him trying to understand how we as a nation could allow such horrible travesties as letting millions live in poverty with no help of escape, sending millions of soldiers to die in wars which needn’t be fought, and how suffering in what was known as the greatest country in the world could prosper while those at the top of those with power did nothing.

That was how he came to learn of the works of Greek playwrights and poets like Aeschylus and existential philosophers like Albert Camus, who helped try to turn his emotion into works he never himself could find within.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

He spoke at length about not the end of struggles, but the continuation of progress towards making these struggles easier and easier to solve, because he knew the solutions would never be easy and that the problems would most likely outlive him, but his hope in future generations to take up the mantle that his brother, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others originally lit was optimistic.

He also believed in the same ideals shared around the nation regarding the various degrees of violence and racism in this country at the time.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.

And this next line, my friends, is where the title of my blog comes from. This line has always spoken far greater to me than any other political speech of our time. Whether it be FDR’s Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself speech, JFK’s Ich Bin Ein Berliner speech, Reagan’s Tear Down This Wall speech, George W. Bush’s 9/11 Ground Zero speech, or even the incredible rhetoric of President Barack Obama.

Why? Because it calls out what humans really are: savages. We are animals and nothing more. Sure, we may have complicated systems of communication and ways of living, but in the end we belong to Kingdom Animalia of the five kingdoms and we have shown at various times of history that we are indeed capable of the most savage of deeds. From the salting of Carthage, to the slaughtering of millions by the Huns in Asia, to the vicious and utterly destructive wars we’ve fought since the dawn of time, not to mention the Holocaust, the Soviet Gulags, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, and today’s atrocities brought to the Palestinians, Syrians, North Koreans, and South Sudanese we have truly shown our savageness. And it will not end there.

Robert Kennedy’s wish at the end of this short speech was simple. And it remains impactful to this day.

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

While we are indeed capable of great tragedies, we are capable of some of the greatest successes and advances in history. We built countries with governments elected by its citizens, we’ve put men and women in space – some even on the moon, we’ve cured diseases and nearly eradicated ones which killed millions not more than a century ago. We fought wars against injustice and on poverty instead of on each other.

And we seem to have lost that. We seem to have devolved back into the world of savageness where those suffering are left to fend for themselves while those more affluent or at the top can proposer more and line their pockets with money made on the backs of workers they pay less than they should to. We’ve let ideas of race and invisible boundaries tear us apart now more than ever. We cling to our religions while scrutinizing or being frightened of others without learning about what it is we’re even frightened about.

So instead of taming the savageness of man we have become a much more ignorant, uneducated, frightened society simply because we refuse to try and understand what it is we are afraid of. What lies in the shadows will terrify you only until you turn the light on to realize it is nothing more than just your imagnition.

This blog was created to continue Robert Kennedy’s legacy of wanting to tame the savageness of man. That means calling out divisiveness when I see it, ignorance when it is uttered, and educating people on what they do not know. I look to find ways whenever possible to heal suffering, bring people together, and end the divides which strangle us day in and day out.

I look to put no one down and I do not say in any way that I know more than anyone else. But when the gadget in your hand has the same amount of power we used to send a man to the moon, I believe it is time to open your mouth and speak out against what is wrong in this world, and that sometimes means getting angry and frustrated with where things are headed.

Will we all agree on what is right and wrong? Of course not, but there are a number of consensuses we can agree on that need to be changed. And that’s what I’m here to do. To begin a dialogue to find them and that together we can become those who indeed tame the savageness of man and make this world a better place to live in.

So instead of arguing, reach out. We’re all here to help. We just need to work together.

– RA

The video recording of Bobby’s speech can be found here.

When Is It Okay To Punch A Nazi?

White supremacist Richard Spencer was recently punched while being interviewed by an Australian news organization. Now, while I never condone violence against any individual let’s look at the facts of what Richard Spencer stands for and whether the actions are justified:

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Today Will Be Difficult

Believe me, you will have feelings of anger, sadness, and despair. You may think the mountain we are about to climb towards racial, social, economic, and environmental justice is too high and may want to turn back. I know the anxiety facing my own heart when I think of the difficulties we face due to the next four years, but I’m asking you from the pit of my heart: do not give up.

This is a bump in the road. A rather large one, yes, but nothing more or less. I still go into fits of rage when I think of how our country could take one step forward and two large steps backwards with this election, but I know if we all hold true to our beliefs and what we know this country truly stands for one where we treat each other equally, with compassion and love, we will eventually gain those faltered steps back and march forward towards the progress we know our country is destined for.

There is no easy path to this success. It requires us, for lack of a better word, to get off our asses and get to work. Maintaining an eye on legislation being voted on in your local community, state legislature, and in Washington is essential. Stay educated, contact your elected officials, not by letter or email, but by phone, because believe it or not they fear those phone calls more than anything. I’ve learned this from person experience. We have more power in this government than we give ourselves. 

99 of you have decided to take a stand a ignore the inauguration with dozens of elected officials who feel that same fire within to keep fighting. That’s just the beginning.

Download the app Countable to learn about bills going through Congress. This app will keep you informed about what is the chaos of Congress, and don’t be afraid to call your congressperson or senator to let them know how you feel about it.

Stay organized. Join a group nearby you working within the Indivisible Organization, a grassroots organization with groups formed by people like you who want to enact change.

Absolutely want to resist Trump and don’t know where to start? Read this beautifully created manual by activists like Deray and myself to know what to do.

You are not alone in this dark time. And while they may be dark now, I know we can rid the skies of the clouds blocking out the garish sun and once again make this country one where we can all feel safe and understood. We are a compassionate and empathetic society underneath all the garbage currently floating around in this country. I think it’s about time we all picked up a broom and got to work to clean it up. What do you say?

– RA

It’s Time to Stand Up

I will admit that for most of my life I’ve been the person seated at the backburner of any push for change. I followed the crowd, and worst of all, I asStand-Up.jpgsumed that whatever needed to be changed would be changed by someone else. It took me over ten years to finally understand that not only do things not have to stand as they are but that I could be one of those most instrumental in bringing about change. We all can.

It’s time to let old habits die hard, push forward with positive change, and stand up to those who are on the wrong side of history.
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